Alder Expansion as a Coastal Warming Signal – Linking Coastal Alaskan Carbon to Vegetation Change with Climate

Monday, 15 December 2014
Dorothy M Peteet1, Jonathan E Nichols2, Christopher M Moy3 and Alicia McGeachy1, (1)Goddard Inst Space Studies, New York, NY, United States, (2)LDEO-Biology & Paleoenvironment, Palisades, NY, United States, (3)University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Corser Bog (60.5296364oN, 145.453858oW), 21 km east of Cordova, AK is a sphagnum-dominated peatland 42 m asl. adjacent to Sheridan Glacier and the Copper River Delta. Deglaciation at 11.5 ka began with shallow pond deposition, reflecting regional warmth with the pioneers Alnus crispa subsp. sinuata, Salix, and ferns colonizing the fresh, mineral soils on the landscape. Continued early Holocene warming/melting of glaciers led to the foundation species Alnus dominance and peatland formation, surrounded by shrubs such as Rubus spectabilis, Sambucus racemosa, and wetland species such as Myrica gale and Potentilla palustris. As Sphagnum peat accumulated, the highest rates of carbon accumulation for a few centuries are represented at 50 g/m2/a, similar to short-term very high rates in the early Holocene throughout the circumboreal region but varying within the early Holocene due to development of local wet, bryophytic environments. A shift to sedge peat regionally along the South-Central Alaskan coast 7.6 – 3.7 ka is paralleled by a more evaporative, drier climate with Rhododendron groenlandicum presence, lower carbon accumulation (13 g/m2/a), and minimal macrofossil preservation, which is paralleled regionally in coastal muskegs both to the northwest and southeast and by a hiatus in a nearby lake record. A cooler, moister climate is evident in Corser Bog with the shift to Sphagnum peat at 3.7 ka, regional shifts from sedge to Sphagnum peat throughout the entire coastline from Yakutat to Girdwood, AK and the demonstration of glacial advances in the region. Alnus pollen markedly increases to 60% in the uppermost sample, indicative of a major signal for glacial recession in this region.